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Kant’s Theoretical & Practical Philosophy - PHI00116I

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  • Department: Philosophy
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Christopher Jay
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: I
  • Academic year of delivery: 2021-22

Module summary

In this module we will study Kant’s theoretical (metaphysics and epistemology) and practical (moral) philosophy. Kant is a towering figure in the history of philosophy, whose ideas shaped philosophical discussion in Europe and beyond. He was a systematic thinker, whose vision of human nature - and hence his ethics - was closely connected with his metaphysics, which itself was closely connected to his ideas about philosophy of mind and epistemology.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2021-22

Module aims

  • To understand the nature, motivation for, and objections to Kant’s doctrine of ‘transcendental idealism’.

  • To understand the nature, motivation for, and objections to some of Kant’s key claims about morality.

  • To understand Kant’s ideas about free will and determinism, and how those ideas connect his moral philosophy to his metaphysics and epistemology.

  • To practise reading and interpreting difficult texts, reconstructing their arguments.

  • To reflect upon the arguments and conclusions presented in Kant’s texts, critically evaluating them in respect of their plausibility and their validity.

  • To reflect upon the problems in ethics, metaphysics and epistemology which Kant is addressing, in an effort to decide what to say about those problems.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this module, students should:

  1. Know what transcendental idealism, the categorical imperative, the doctrines of the good will and the highest good, and Kant’s theory of freedom are.

  2. Understand why Kant reached the conclusions he offers, and what there is to be said in favour of and against those conclusions.

  3. Be able to explain clearly and precisely what Kant’s arguments are, critically evaluate them, and draw conclusions about the plausibility of Kant’s contributions to various debates.

Module content

The first half of the module will be concerned with Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. We will examine his discussions of how knowledge of a priori truths (such as the truths of mathematics) is possible, the nature of experience, and the distinction between things in themselves and the empirical world.

In the second half of the module, we turn to the Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals and the Critique of Practical Reason and examine Kant’s moral philosophy: his derivation of the categorical imperative; his idea that moral worth (praiseworthiness) depends upon a good will; his doctrine of the highest good; and his understanding of the connection between free will, rationality, and morality.

At the end of the module, we might consider some further issues, which could be drawn from the following list: Kant’s philosophy of religion; the relevance of Kant’s racism; Kant’s political theory; idealism and pragmatism.

Assessment

Task Length % of module mark
Essay/coursework
Summative essay
N/A 70
Open Examination
Exam
N/A 30

Special assessment rules

None

Additional assessment information

The formative reflective/critical 1,500-word writing task is due for submission in Week 6, Autumn Term.

The summative 4,000-word essay is due for submission on Monday, Week 1 of Spring Term.

The 1-hour summative exam will take place in Week 1, Spring Term.

Reassessment

Task Length % of module mark
Essay/coursework
Summative essay
N/A 70
Open Examination
Exam
N/A 30

Module feedback

Written feedback on formative work will be provided within two weeks of the submission deadline.

Written feedback will be given on summative essays within four weeks of the submission deadline, and there will be an opportunity for students to view their exam scripts and receive oral feedback on their exam performance.

Indicative reading

Key texts:

Immanuel Kant:

  • Critique of Pure Reason (Cambridge: CUP)
  • Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals (Cambridge: CUP)
  • Critique of Practical Reason (Cambridge: CUP)

Other texts by Kant which we might draw on include:

The Metaphysics of Morals (Cambridge: CUP)



The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.